Halloween Horror | Shocktober 2023
Following on from my previous entries for Shocktober, 2020, 2021 and 2022, I am repeating it all again this year with yet another wonderful 10 horror movies. I have chosen the 10 movies myself, which are spread over the various streaming platforms and each will contain a little synopsis or a kind of mini review. Some I have seen previously and enjoyed enough to watch again, and I have held them back to rewatch now, and some of them will be first viewings. There will actually be 12 movies this year, as for the 10th and final movie I will be watching Halloween, the 1978 original, followed by the sequel Halloween II from 1981, and then I'll finish off with Halloween H20 which is from 1998. The streaming services that were used are Channel 4, Netflix, NOW, Shudder, and Disney+. There will also be a little bit more detail on each of these streaming services including their subscription prices at the end of the reviews.
Talk to Me (2022)
I missed this one on its cinema release, so was glad to see it arrive on Netflix, and so soon as well, just in time for Halloween. Talk to Me is an Australian supernatural horror about a group of friends who discover that they can summon or communicate with the dead using an old embalmed hand. It's all fun and games at first and somewhat of a dare with most of them, but it soon takes a turn for the worse when they make contact with a spirit who takes over one of them. I knew from the buzz surrounding Talk to Me that it was very well received on its limited cinema run, so I was looking forward to finally sitting down to watch it. All I will say is that it did not disappoint. They whole setup just works really well and the practical effects are very well done. There is already a sequel Talk 2 Me in production, and talk of a prequel. Talk to Me was directed by Danny and Michael Philippou and it is available to stream on Netflix.
This was another movie that I had missed at the cinema due to its very limited release, but I was lucky enough to get access to a review screener for it from Lionsgate. It's also another directorial debut with Samuel Bodin at the helm. Lizzy Caplin and Anthony Starr play parents to Peter (Woody Norman), who believes that he is hearing noises coming from inside his bedroom wall. The parents try to brush it off to his imagination, but he then starts hearing a voice talking to him from inside the wall. I really enjoyed Cobweb, and it is a perfect movie for Halloween. Not just because it's a horror, but it is set around Halloween, and there are not enough movies set around this time of the year. There have been so many great horrors released this year, and Cobweb is certainly up there with the best of them. At the time of writing, Cobweb is available to rent or buy digitally and it is also available on DVD/Blu-Ray.
The Pope's Exorcist (2023)
Based on the books by Father Gabriele Amorth, and starring Russell Crowe in the lead role as Father Amorth, The Pope's Exorcist is a supernatural horror that sees Crowe scooting around Italy and then Spain on his little moped and exorcising demons for the Vatican. This was a first watch, and it definitely gains a point for Russell Crowe speaking Italian for a large part of the movie. If you like demonic possession horrors, then this will be right up your street. It's a decent enough movie, and Crowe is great to watch as the scooter-riding Priest. Screen legend Franco Nero plays the Pope, and Ralph Ineson's unmistakable voice can be heard as the demon. Alex Essoe (who played Wendy in Doctor Sleep) also stars as the mother of the possessed boy, and it's all set in the late 1980s. The Pope's Exorcist was directed by Julius Avery and it is available to stream on NOW/Sky TV in the UK and Ireland.
The Boogeyman (2023)
The Boogeyman is certainly a return to form for Stephen King movie adaptations. Managed to catch this one at the cinema when it was released earlier in the year, and I remember there being some LOUD jump-scares that really got me, so I was looking forward to this rewatch for Shocktober. It's all about that evil entity that lives in the cupboard and comes out at night while you sleep. Sophie Thatcher from Yellowjackets stars alongside Vivien Lyra Blair (who played young Princess Leia in Obi-Wan Kenobi), and despite me having never read the original short story, I did thoroughly enjoy this. If you are looking for some jump-scares this Halloween, you really cannot go wrong with The Boogeyman. Released just in time for spooky season, and directed by Rob Savage, adapted from the short story by Stephen King, The Boogeyman is available to stream now exclusively on Disney+ in the UK and Ireland.
James Wan gives you exactly what you'd expect and then some! This is a great movie, which is hard to place into a horror sub-genre. It's definitely horror, though, but you really have just got to see it for yourself, it's as simple as that. Also, try not read anything about it, and go in blind for the maximum effect... you will enjoy this all the more. Annabelle Wallis stars in the lead as Madison, a woman who suffers from nightmares where she witnesses very gruesome murders, but they turn out to be actually happening. I do have to question some of the CGI choices throughout the movie though, but I suppose I could let them off with it, just for the police station scene alone. It's an absolutely insane sequence of the movie. Also, could this be the start of a brand new franchise? I'd certainly watch more of it. At the time of writing this review, Malignant (directed by James Wan) is available to stream over on Prime Video.
The Black Phone (2021)
Ethan Hawke plays 'The Grabber', a serial child abductor, in this 70s set supernatural horror, based on the book by Joe Hill. Mason Thames also stars as Finney, who, as the latest victim of the grabber, find himself locked in a basement with no means of escape. In the basement however, there is a black phone, which allows Finney to communicate with the previous kids who were all victims of the grabber. The whole 70s setting and the look and feel of the movie is incredible. It really is just so well done. Ethan Hawke is excellent as the sadistic villain here, and the mask just adds more menace to the character. It's also another horror movie villain mask to add to the iconic ranks. This was also my third viewing this year after watching it once myself and once with my partner. The Black Phone was directed by Scott Derrickson, and at the time of writing this review, it is available to stream exclusively on NOW/Sky TV.
Night of the Hunted (2023)
Night of the Hunted is a single-location horror-thriller starring Camille Rowe in the lead role as Alice, who on her way home from a work convention with her colleague in the middle of the night, stops off at an all-night gas station. What she doesn't know is that a crazed sniper is lying in wait with his sights set on the gas station. Directed by Franck Khalfoun, who also co-wrote the film, based on the 2015 Spanish thriller La Noche del Ratón. It's a very tense and bloody game of cat and mouse for the 95 minutes here and although it is, I suppose, an entertaining horror-thriller, it just feels like it has all been done before. I have not seen the original movie, but would be interested to see it now, based on my viewing here. Camille Rowe holds her own with most of the movie focused on Alice, and her attempts at survival, while in the crosshairs. Night of the Hunted is available to stream right now over on Shudder.
Hereditary is Ari Aster's directorial debut, and is a supernatural horror starring Toni Collette and Gabriel Byrne. The film opens with Annie (Toni Collette), Steve (Gabriel Byrne) and their two kids attending the funeral of Annie's mother, and soon after this, Annie attends a local support group for the bereaved, where she meets another woman, Joan (Ann Dowd), who introduces her to the possibility of performing a séance to communicate with the deceased. Without wanting to give too much away regarding the story, all I will say is that Hereditary is a great debut from Ari Aster. It's a slow-burning psychological horror, unnerving at times, and with a great performance from Toni Collette in the lead role. If you are a fan of movies like Rosemary's Baby, then I would definitely recommend adding this one to your watchlist. At the time of writing this review, Hereditary is available to stream on-demand on Channel 4.
The Empty Man (2020)
The Empty Man is an urban legend supernatural horror, and for the bulk of the movie (after quite a lengthy, and such a well done opening sequence) we have James Badge Dale as an ex-cop trying to locate a local missing girl. There is just something about this movie, it feels very familiar, but different, if that makes sense. The cinematography is amazing and there are more than a few jump scares to keep you going throughout the 137 minute runtime. The film is based on the graphic novel by Vanesa R. Del Rey, and it's a directorial debut from David Prior. I think the movie suffered a bit at the box office due to its release date and the Covid pandemic, which is unfortunate, as this would have been great to see on the big screen. It's my second viewing of it now, having first seen it on Channel 4 earlier in the year, but it is now available to stream in the UK and Ireland on Disney+, and I would very highly recommend it.
This is absolutely THE classic Halloween horror movie. It is a John Carpenter masterpiece that I was lucky enough to see on the big screen a couple of years ago. Michael Myers, the killer, having spent most of his life locked up after murdering his sister, escapes from the institution and makes his way back to his hometown of Haddonfield on Halloween night. Local babysitter Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) and her friends, Lynda and Annie, become the prey, as Michael tears up the town with a large knife and a William Shatner mask. I have lost count how many times that I have seen this movie over the years. It is a wonderful classic horror, a classic Halloween movie, with a soul-less brutal killer on the loose in a small town, all filmed on a very small budget. It is still an iconic horror movie to this day. Halloween was directed by John Carpenter and is available to stream on NOW/Sky TV in the UK and Ireland.
Halloween II (1981)
Halloween II is often overlooked, especially now with the new reboot movies out, but is still for me just like a proper continuation of the first movie and one that needs to be seen. It continues literally in the moments after the first film with Laurie taken to the local hospital, and Michael on her trail, ripping up each department in the building trying to get to her. Doctor Loomis (Donald Pleasance) is back on the hunt for Michael and eagle-eyed viewers will notice Dana Carvey (Garth from Wayne's World) in this movie with a small part. It often gets labelled a TV movie, and it was only written and produced by John Carpenter, as he chose not to direct it. You could literally join both movies together and make a 3 hour film from them. I am actually watching part I, then part II and finishing off with H2O this year for the perfect trilogy. Halloween II, directed by Rick Rosenthal, is available on NOW/Sky TV.
Halloween H20 (1998)
Twenty years have passed since Laurie's run in with Michael Myers on that fateful Halloween night in 1978, and after faking her death, changing her name, and relocating, she is now the head-mistress of a secluded private school in California. As you can probably guess, it's not too long before Michael shows up and begins to slice and dice anyone who gets in his way. Halloween H20 is often overlooked as just another Halloween sequel, but it definitely sits as the final part of my trilogy here. Despite some very predictable moments, it still manages to hold it's place alongside Halloween and Halloween II for me. Jamie Lee Curtis is joined for this one by Adam Arkin, Josh Hartnett, Michelle Williams, LL Cool J, Jodi Lyn O'Keefe, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, as well as her mother, Janet Leigh. Halloween H20 was directed by Steve Miner and it is available to stream now over on NOW/Sky TV in the UK and Ireland.
Thank you for reading this little Halloween themed movie watching Shocktober blog of mine for 2023. I have really enjoyed watching these movies and also re-watching some that I had seen already. I will most likely repeat this all again next year, but for now I will leave you with some information regarding each of the online streaming services that I used to watch my movies on, with a link to their websites and some information about their subscription prices.
The information below applies to the streaming services I used. The prices listed below are for Ireland and are in Euro, so just make sure that you check in your own region as there may be some differences with both the prices and availability of some of the titles that I viewed.
Shudder - AMC owned mostly horror content service and €4.99 per month for a subscription.
Disney+ - All of the horror related content is on Disney+ Star and it all costs €8.99 per month.